Physical Address: 129 Main Street, Tazewell, VA 24651
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 929, Tazewell, VA 24651
Phone: (276) 988-2541
Fax: (276) 988-5980
The Tazewell Library is closed for renovations. We will have limited hours at the county administration building on Main Street Tazewell on Wednesday, Thursdays, and Fridays from 11am – 1pm.
Organized public library service in Tazewell County is a relatively recent phenomenon. Through the years, women’s clubs offered lending library programs, some to members, some to the general community. Notices of new books available for lending appeared in the pages of the Clinch Valley News from time to time.
In the early 1960s, as a result of Sputnik, federal funds for education increased significantly and led, through the Library Services Act, to the initiation of public library service in previously unserved communities. This provided the impetus for establishing many library systems in Virginia, particularly those serving small and rural populations. The Virginia State Library offered to demonstrate library service in a community for two years, at the end of which time the locality would assume responsibility for continuing it if it was successful.
For many years, Mrs. W. B. Leslie, a teacher and newspaper publisher, had sought to have a public library in Tazewell County. The Demonstration Library program delivered the vehicle for reaching this goal. Mrs. Leslie worked with a number of interested county residents and officials to apply for the Demonstration Library, which was approved. Dorothy M. Fuller of the Virginia State Library guided the library to its opening July 1964. The Town of Tazewell arranged for space in the town hall, built wooden shelving, and furnished utilities. The Library of Virginia selected, bought and cataloged books, organized the collection, trained the staff, provided a bookmobile to reach communities beyond Tazewell and paid all operational costs. Mrs. Edith M. Farley was the first librarian and she had a staff of four.
Tazewell County assumed operational responsibility for the library at the end of the agreed two-year demonstration. The Board of Supervisors appointed a five-member Board of Trustees, chaired by Mrs. Leslie, and including Lester L. Jones, Cora Lee Philpott, T. G. Shufflebarger, and Mary Sue Sult. They built a permanent library on Main Street, on the site of the old Tazewell High School. Dr. W. F. Wadsworth, Presbyterian minister and community leader, worked with Mrs. Leslie and the Board, Mrs. Irma Gillespie and many other individuals and community groups, and the support of E. R. Kilgore, James Bailey, and Graham Hedrick of the Board of Supervisors, to see this building project through. The library was dedicated 3 December 1967. The architect was J. Coates Carter and the contractor was Fort Chiswell Construction Company. Major funding was provided by federal grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Library Services and Construction Act.
Mrs. Farley served as Librarian from 1964 until her retirement in1976. She was followed by Clare DeCleene, 1976-1977. Laurie Surface Roberts served as the Library Director from 1977 until her retirement in 2012. Lynne Bartlett served as the Library Director from 2012-2019. Erica Galloway has been the library director since 2019.